Amorous and sexual relations must be firmly discouraged within our school system. Our children must be allowed to see school as a place of enlightenment and safety and not a cove for gaining sexual experience or fostering relations of the heart.
We have no doubt that there are isolated cases of teachers sexually molesting children within our schools. We however do not believe that the situation is as widespread as recent allegations may suggest.
Every such allegation nonetheless represents a serious problem which must be addressed through criminal prosecution. All such allegations should be thoroughly investigated and condign action taken against those found guilty of misconduct.
Not every allegation however is true, and this is where the authorities must be careful. It would be extremely unfair for a teacher who has done no wrong to be framed by students who may have grievances with that teacher.
School children who have issues with teachers can become extremely nasty and use the present situation where teachers are being accused of criminal misconduct to get at their teachers.
These children can use any pretext to accuse teachers of wrongdoing when in fact the teachers may be innocent. Parents can also do the same if they have a problem with teachers.
It is therefore important that no teacher is condemned for any act unless there is the evidence to support such charges.
Teachers and children alike need to be protected against malicious charges. What we do not want in our schools are sexual predators and especially if these predators are teachers entrusted with the safety and education of our children.
Equally what we also do not wish to have in our classrooms are vengeful and malicious children and parents who may wish to use differences they may have with teachers to exact revenge by falsely accusing teachers of sexual and other forms of molestation.
In recent weeks, there has been an upsurge in allegations of sexual misconduct against school teachers. This in itself is highly unusual and would suggest that some of the charges being leveled may be malicious.
The best way to determine the veracity of the allegations is for a thorough investigation to be launched by the educational authorities.
We therefore urge the Ministry of Education to ensure a fair and impartial system to investigate these allegations because if the many that we have been hearing about in recent times are true, it would mean that we have on our hands a serious crisis in our classrooms which will require national responses.
We also urge the Ministry of Education to take a proactive position concerning relations between children and teachers. Historically, there have been cases where teachers have been known to have amorous relations with their pupils. In many cases, this has led to both parties marrying after the student would have left school.
It is however important that such relations not be encouraged, especially considering the power and influence that a teacher wields over his or her pupils. This can lead to teachers of both genders taking advantage of the innocence and inexperience of our children.
A strict code should be enforced prohibiting such relations and any teacher found to be consorting, even in a non- sexual sense with a student should be debarred from teaching.
While we however set a code of ethics for our teachers, let us not delude ourselves over the realities of student-student relationships, many of which are flourishing and which also result in isolated cases of sexual experimentation.
This is where parents need to play a more important role in ensuring that such relationships between students are discouraged.
The problem of reducing sexual permissive conduct in our schools requires a collaborative effort between the educational authorities who should lay down the ground rules and implement a strong system of monitoring and enforcement, teachers who should be bound to a code of ethics, parents who must instill sound values in their children and the kids themselves who should report any person attempting amorous or sexual relations.
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